How?

We are tackling social contract theory through the framework of eduScrum. It took quiet sometime to try to map this idea out for myself never mind figure out how to make it digestible for 8th grade students.

I created the driving questions, the task statement and the celebration criteria. I made a template for the Flap. I still had no idea where to start.

Do I tell kids we’re doing eduScrum?

How exactly do I let them plan their own project?

I know my role is Scrum Master and Project Manager, but…. HOW?

I did enough research. I read books. I knew this was the path that was going to bridge the gap between my virtual and in school students. I knew eduScrum would help me teach content but also enable my kids to take agency in their own learning. I knew that there is so much more to development than learning facts off of a page and eduScrum was going to help me…. but HOW?

This all happened a week before school started. I was panicking. So, what was my first response?

Twitter of course.

I started to look for eduScrum on twitter and luckily found @eduScrum. After diving deep into their timeline, I decided I needed to have some guts and just reach out. Hoping that there was some compassionate soul on the other end of the @eduScrum handle I typed out a DM asking for help. Half hoping someone was there and half thinking my request would never be answered.

Five minutes later Willy Wiljands messaged me back and we set a time to answer my questions through zoom.

I. FREAKED.OUT.

Seriously. Meeting smart, driven people that actually manage to create is the most exciting thing I can do. Meeting a man who was able to take the ideals of the Scrum framework and make them work within the classroom was exceptionally exciting.

Mr. Wiljands was incredible for spending an hour of his time with me. I had questions about how to start, my role, curriculum, but mostly how to guide students through this process. He had exceptional answers for everything.

The Insight

Everything starts with WHY. It’s not just a Simon Sinek book, it’s a way of life. Students need to know why. Why are they learning this content? Why are they tackling these issues? By starting with why students will buy in. They are naturally inquisitive and want to be respected enough that you take them time to explain WHY.

Why are we studying social contract theory?

Why are we discussing power in society? How does it effect us?

Why am I giving you celebration critieria? How can we use it effectively?

Why do we use a flap? What benefit does it provide for us?

Generating the WHY questions helped me plan my unit and introduce each piece to my class. I started with the purpose and then introduced the HOW.

My students don’t know they’re practicing eduScrum. They only know I am giving them the power to create their own project. They know this framework because I am teaching it them, not because I handed them the eduScrum guide.

The biggest piece of insight Mr. Wiljands shared with me was how to create stories and tasks. I was completely confused as to how to describe this to students. I want them to be independent, but if I am hands off nothing will be done. Mr. Wiljands explained the analogy he uses which you can see in many of his Youtube speeches. He explained the the project is an mountain that the students are climbing. The mountain is made from boulders which are the stories. Each boulder is made from rocks and the rocks are made from sand. These are the tasks and activities that need to be completed. I can help define the boulders and even rocks that must be completed, but students can have control of the order to complete them and even adding more rocks and sand.

This analogy cleared up most of my confusion. I can guide students and make sure they are making the connections that are necessary, but I can still leave them in creative control.

In class I drew the exact some picture of the person climbing a mountain filled with boulders, rocks and sand and explained the analogy in the exact same way. It was not without it’s bumps. The students struggled with how to break down big ideas into stories and tasks.

To clarify we broke down the first story together. We discussed how each story is made of tasks. The tasks are actionable pieces of work that can be completed independent of each other. For example, the first task is to annotate and marginal note a reading. That can be completed and put into the done section of our Flap. After that is complete students can use their reading to synthesize information into a graphic organizer. That is a task that can be fully completed and placed in the done section. Both of these tasks build to the same knowledge, but they are separate tasks.

Once we worked through our first story together students were able to launch into their projects together. Some jumped in, others meandered a bit, all were successful. The flap really helped them organize their thoughts and ideas. It lead to interesting conversations, the sharing of ideas and brainstorming about where the project could take them.

This was a new year with a new energy. Students were excited to learn about social contract theory. (First time ever!)

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